Headsprout and Students At Risk for Reading Difficulties

Research Applies to: Headsprout

About This Research

This study provided access to Headsprout for students at risk for reading difficulties, then compared their performance on two reading assessments to the performance of similar students who were not at risk for reading difficulties. By comparing these two groups, the study evaluated whether Headsprout may be an effective tool for preventing reading difficulties.

Main Findings

Compared to students in the control group, students who used Headsprout showed greater gains in reading, as measured by the New Group Reading Test. The differences were statistically significant.


Participants were 62 six- to 11-year-old students in two schools in Wales. Most of the participants were at risk for reading difficulties as identified by the school or had scores significantly below the mean in the national tests of reading and numeracy.

Study Design and Procedures

This study used a non-equivalent control group design in which students were selected for the experimental group based on low scores or at-risk identification for reading, whereas the control group included students not at risk for reading difficulties. Students in the Headsprout group used Headsprout during three 30-minute sessions per week for 19 weeks in addition to participating in the regular phonics instruction that was part of their school curriculum. The Nonsense Word Fluency subtest of the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) and the New Group Reading Test (NGRT) were used as pre- and posttests.


Watkins, R. C., Hulson-Jones, A., Tyler, E., Beverly, M., Hughes, J. C., & Hastings, R. P. (2016). Evaluation of an online reading programme to improve pupils’ reading skills in primary schools: Outcomes from two implementation studies. Wales Journal of Education, 18(2), 81-104.

Browse Other research
A Cambium Learning company

A Cambium Learning® Group Company